cover image Swimmers


María José Ferrada, trans. from the Spanish by Kit Maude, illus. by Mariana Alcántara. Tapioca Stories, $19.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-73478-393-3

In a gently absurdist excursion that turns a human wish—“Olympic swimmers/ dream that they’re fish”—on its head, Ferrada (Niños: Poems for the Lost Children of Chile) claims that “every species has a recurring dream.” As a group of human swimmers, illustrated in black ink and primary-colored towels and caps, parades to a pool and dives in, brief lines reveal that fish, in turn, “dream of becoming/ Olympic swimmers.” To succeed, the fish know they must sleep well, “have/ a healthy breakfast,” and “train every day” in a suit (“preferably blue with white stripes”), all shown in grayscale art with blocks of color. And they revere “the school of tuna who/ won a silver medal at the 1942 Olympics”; they know the legend isn’t true, but they repeat it anyway. Debut creator Alcántara imagines an alternate universe of Olympic training that brims with quiet humor. Humans, fish, and droll human-fish hybrids smudged in lithograph-like grays stroke and kick and plunge through white pages that function visually as water. But instead of Olympian strength and endurance, the artist’s sly underwater civilization—in which fingers of kelp wave like steam from undersea cups—is driven by creativity, invention, and hope. Ages 6–9. (July)